Category Archives: video game

Why Diablo sucked

Not long ago, I watched a speedrun of Diablo on the YouTube archives of Awesome Games Done quick, and as the runner got into the lowest floors, I suddenly realized that I had never finished the game with any character. I saw it was only ten euros on Battle.Net, so I figured I would fire it back up to sort out why I stopped playing.

I could nitpick on all the game’s flaws. No, check that. I will do that anyway, but the sum of all its flaws can be condensed down to one damning statement: accounting isn’t fun.

Spending ten minutes in every session trying to sort out whether to call a financial loss on a run by casting a portal or lose twenty minutes walking back to town is not fun. Being financially penalized for wanting to hold onto items is not fun. Even when the game is almost starting to feel fun, here’s a room filled with thirty enemies who will deplete my carefully budgeted supply of potions while dropping no gold or items to sell back in town, and I’m right back to having no fun. Continue reading

Game review: Cult of the Lamb for Steam

Way back in 2021, I did a review for the mobile version of My Friend Pedro and said that Devolver Digital games never fully clicked for me. I still hold that same opinion, but I keep giving their games a chance because as a publisher, they seem to be the most earnest and ethical folks in the gaming industry, and because they are willing to publish weird, original games instead of chasing the latest bestsellers.

Take Cult of the Lamb as a prime example, where the main character is an actual lamb being led to the slaughter to prevent a prophesied return of an evil god. One minute into the game that lamb is killed, only to be resurrected by the aforementioned god. He commands them to kill his enemies, build a cult, and free him from his eternal prison. It’s one part The Binding of Isaac mixed with Cult Simulator. On paper, that sounds fantastic.

In practice, the wonderful dungeon crawling bits are dragged down by the cult maintenance, and a large part of managing the cult being a drag falls on the industry-wide decision to have ridiculously accelerated day/night cycles. I hated that “feature” in Skyrim and Fallout. I hated it in GTA V. And in Cult of the Lamb, they decided to make an even faster clock speed while chopping the night into a ridiculously short quarter wedge of the in-game clock. Continue reading

Game review: Grow Home for Steam

Fair warning that there will be higher than average swearing in this week’s review. That’s because I didn’t play Grow Home so much as I endured as much of it as I could stand before throwing my aching hands up and declaring “fuck this.”  Part of this physical agony could be blamed on my first controller choice, which has triggers with a higher amount of tension than the standard PC gamepad. It’s great for shooters, helping me avoid accidental misfired shots. But here, the constant back and forth of “left shoulder, right shoulder” left me ending sessions with massive hand cramps.

But even setting that aside, this is the kind of half baked formula that could be good with more effort, and instead it got released as good enough in a damn near broken state. It fails to explain some of its most important mechanics, botches control schemes for both gamepad and mouse and keyboard gamers, and adds a list of busy work to drag out what is already a tiring slog.

I got to the point of the game where I had grown the central plant up to the little robot’s (BUD) mothership. (MOM) I collected a star seed and delivered it where I was instructed. Credits rolled, and the game was done, yes? FUCK NO. The game said, “Go fetch eight more seeds for us. Do you want to?” I selected NO, and the game went, “Thank you for your opinion. Now go get them seeds, biyatch.”

It was then that I said, “No. And not just no, but fuck no, and Grow Fuck yourself.” Continue reading

Game review: Unit 13 for PS Vita

Readers, I come to you a broken and defeated reviewer. In the last two weeks, I have tried and bounced from five games. Some, like Pillars of Eternity and Kao the Kangaroo, I knew were going to be iffy at the start. But then there was Party Hard 2, a game I wanted to love, until they kept tossing in new ingredients I never asked for. (Why was “Kill everyone” dubiously upgraded to “Follow a boring checklist” anyway?)

Running out of options, I decided to go back and play something I started ages ago, but never reviewed, Unit 13. Back when I first got my PS Vita, I bought the digital version of the game, only to discover that any attempt to play it in English caused it to revert to French. At the time, my Italian wasn’t strong enough for me to play that version, so I ended up getting a refund.

But it always stuck with me for reasons I couldn’t put into words. The simple premise for a third person shooter, a mercenary team taking out terrorists, had just enough meat on it to carry forward a set of missions of increasing difficulty within a limited number of locations. It’s kind of like if Counter-Strike had a single player version. Continue reading

Game review: Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands for Steam

When Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands got some meh reviews from folks I followed, I put it lower on my priority list, but not on the do not buy list. This is because the same folks gave Borderlands 3 a meh, and while I felt it could have wrapped up the plot faster, it was altogether a stronger story than the first two entries. I also really liked Tiny Tiny’s first BnB campaign when I played it with hubby, and I think that flavored my expectations going into it. So here’s Tiny Tina with another mega-session of Bunkers and Baddasses, offering stronger writing and a far shorter playtime than the planet spanning flagship.

Did it work? I’ll put it this way: I only beat the main game after intentionally holding off on the final boss to play a whole bunch of side quests. I’d already hit the level cap when I got there, but I was enjoying the side quests stories so much that I just wanted to see a few more before reaching the ending. And then not long after reaching the end, I started a new character so I could experiment with a different build.

Far from being a meh game, this might be closest to the perfect looter shooter for me. It’s not too long, the writing is cute and full of puns and dad jokes that make me smile even when they can’t quite get a laugh. (There’s also some pop culture and meme references so old they fart dust.) Buuuuuut, there was an early joke so funny that Hubby got mad at me for laughing too loud. So what I’m saying is, this really worked for me…most of the time.
Continue reading

Game review: Cursed To Golf for EGS

Cursed to Golf is one of those games where many folks know right away if they’re going to love it or hate it just by describing it in genre terms. It’s a rogue-like side scrolling platform golf game, and any of these terms could be a deal maker or breaker for you. For me, the one that’s a sticking point is rogue-like, as opposed to rogue-lite. The difference is, every new run, the whole world is reset, and nothing carries over.

But let me set that aside and talk about what makes this a unique experience. After a tutorial explains how an almost legendary golfer end up in Golf Purgatory, players are tasked with battling eighteen holes of side scrolling golf to win a shot at returning to their body. In their arsenal are a driver, an iron, and a wedge. (I was annoyed by the lack of a putter until I realized the wedge can do the job by applying really low power to swings.) One button press activates a power meter. Pressing it again activates the angle selection. If you don’t like the look of a swing, it’s possible to back out of the swing, either to select a different club, or just to adjust the power level of the swing.

Each level starts with five swings as “par,” and falling to zero mean losing and returning to the clubhouse to start over. However, within levels are statues that can be broken to unlock more swings. Gold statues grant five swings, and silver statues give two. So really, even if the so-called par is five, most levels end with swing counts of ten to fifteen, and some go as high as twenty, and they’re still considered par. Riiiiiight. Continue reading

My top 5 games of 2023

Well, look at the time! Another year has passed, and I have to say, compared to the years before this one, it didn’t suck nearly as bad. Sure, it still had its share of downs to equal the ups, but looking back, I think this is the year I could say, “Yeah, I’d do that again if I could.” It was a combination of good food, good company, and good games.

I know this is new for me, as I’ve never been much for recapping what I played, but I decided this year that I want to give a spotlight to the games I think went beyond good and sailed into great, taking up so much of my time, but in a good way.

So join me after the cut as I look at my top 5 games of the year. (In order of lowest to highest ranking.) Continue reading

Game review: Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion for EGS

I originally got Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion (Hereafter shortened to Turnip Boy) on the Google play store because it sounded like everything I wanted in a mobile game. But it turned out that I was too much of a klutz to complete it using touch controls, so I wasn’t able to finish it, thus I could never review it, even though I liked what I played.

Fast forward a few months later, and I saw Turnip Boy on Epic Game Store, and I decided that even though I had to buy it again, I liked it enough on my phone that I wanted to see how it ends. As it turns out, I liked Turnip Boy enough that I don’t even mind buying it twice.

I think it helps that despite being a Metroidvania, one of the genres I’m not keen on, it does manage to make the formula work for me because the game isn’t that big. I get a new item, and it’s close enough to me hitting a roadblock in another area that I think, Oh, that’s right, I needed this to get into that other area. Continue reading

Versus series: Diablo Immortal VS Diablo IV

This installment of the versus series became inevitable pretty much right after I did the Diablo IV server slam. But that little weekend-thin slice wasn’t enough to build a solid idea of what the full game would offer. Since then, I’ve played a lot of Diablo Immortal, and I got Diablo IV around three weeks ago. You’d think I would play one character to the end of the story, but no, I played every class. My main, a Rogue named RhodaRargh, has just entered Act III at level forty, and all my other characters are around level thirty. At this point I can safely say I’ve seen the core loop even if I’m not yet ready to fire off a review.

What I am ready for is an in-depth examination of what Diablo Immortal offers in relation to Diablo IV, and I’ll say right up front, I am genuinely shocked at who is winning this contest with flying colors. I’m coming into this contest with years of bias against free mobile games and all their bullshit. So believe me when I say how shocking it is that I am endorsing Diablo Immortal as the winner by a freakin’ landslide.

Before I get to the apples to oranges fight, let me be clear to avoid drama with the die-hard fans. I’m not saying that Diablo IV sucks, okay? I’m just saying that Diablo Immortal manages to do a better job of getting me into the game while respecting my time and my budget. Continue reading

Game review: Divinity: Original Sin II for Steam

It’s rare for me to mention how much time I played a game before reviewing it, but I think saying upfront that I played five hundred and thirty nine hours of Divinity: Original Sin 2 can help back up some of what I’m going to say. This is because for as much as I loved a lot of the game, I also hated it in equal measure. In fact, I can’t think of a single game that challenged me more to wring enjoyment from it while it in turn tried to aggravate me to the point of wanting to break a controller.

Oh, fair warnings are in order. This will likely be a long post, and there will be spoilers. So if you wanted the short and sweet, spoiler free version: great combat systems cannot balance out terrible enemy AI, nor can it absolve the schism between Pratchett-like humor and grimdark world building, and it cannot overcome not one, but two terrible control schemes.

So, spoilers and long-windedness after the cut m’kay? Continue reading